WT 076: How Do I Help My Child Deal With Peer Pressure?
There’s a shift that all moms experience at some point… it’s when we start to realize that our kids care more about what their friends think than what we think. This is normal for every child, but it doesn’t mean that we have to just accept it. Even if our influence is weaning, it’s our job as moms to help our child learn to make the right decisions, navigate peer pressure and stand up for themselves and others. Karen talks about all this and more on today’s episode of Wire Talk.
Question 1: My 9-year-old son is a very sweet boy, so I was really surprised when I got a call from another mom at school who said that my son had called her son names on the bus. When I confronted him, he started crying and said that he felt bad and it wasn’t him who said anything, but his friend. How do I teach him to be someone who stands up for himself and others when something feels wrong?
Karen’s Answer: These situations happen throughout a child’s life. When a child is in the moment, it’s hard to do the right thing. But when we (moms) do find out, that is our opportunity to teach them how to respond the right way. You can empathize with him; but, then tell him, “In life, you need to choose to do the right thing even when it’s hard.”
You know moms, situations like this one is what builds character in our children. I know it’s hard to watch your child cry. You may feel bad but building character takes time. It doesn’t just happen. It’s actually a good thing he started crying. That shows his conscious was bothering him. That’s good! You can love and comfort him in his tears, but still guide and direct him on how to do the right thing.
Last thing, when your child eventually shares with you a time he or she did stand up and do the right thing, praise him or her like crazy!
Question 2: Karen, my son is a junior in high school and just got his license. He is a good kid and I really trust him, but I’m also a realist. I know that he will probably find himself in situations over the next few years where he will be confronted with alcohol and unsupervised time with girls. What are some ways to navigate this season of life?
Karen’s Answer: Lots of conversations. Lots of role playing. Lots of prayer!
Keep in mind: he is learning, he is human and he will make mistakes. When mistakes are made, try not to overreact. Walk with him through the mistake in love. However, “in love” does not mean there are no consequences. It’s just the opposite. Sometimes tough love is loving someone. Usually, when a child slips up, they have lied in some way. When someone lies, it breaks your trust; therefore, you have to teach them how to regain your trust. Be mindful your son or daughter is just like the rest of us; they are a work in progress.
I always prayed my children would mess up while still under my roof. Because I loved them, I knew I would take the time to walk them through their mistakes. Start praying now. Ask God to give you wisdom, patience and an extra dose of love and grace for your child in these essential years.
Question 3: Karen (type in answers here): My daughter is in high school and has a little job where she makes enough money to pay for gas for her car and some spending money. The problem is, her and her friends are obsessed with luxury items. She blows through all of her money on purses and Sephora trips and I know it’s just to keep up with her more affluent friends. How do I help her in this?
Karen’s Answer: The best way to help her is to not rescue her when her money runs out. This is a hard lesson to learn for students; and honestly, it doesn’t go away when we reach adulthood. I’m sure you have lots of affluent friends. If you tried to keep up with all of them, you would go broke. I do too! It’s hard. The sooner we all learn that we can’t and shouldn’t strive to keep up with someone else’s lifestyle, the better we will all be.
While in college, my kids worked during the summer. Their summer income was their money for the school year. After Kelsey’s first year of college, she was making good money that summer; but, she was blowing through it like crazy. I kept reminding her she should put money aside for her school year. She put a little away but not enough. When she went back to school, she struggled because she ran out of money halfway through the first semester of the school year. Kelsey was at TCU, an affluent college, and she was on the struggle bus! We didn’t bail her out. It was so hard to watch, but she learned her lesson.
Question 4: I have witnessed first-hand my son peer pressuring his siblings to do things they weren’t supposed to do. He is my first born and a natural leader. How do I make sure that he channels his strengths into being a leader and not being a manipulator?
Karen’s Answer: To be honest, most leaders manipulate. That doesn’t make it right, but I’m just keeping it real. Your son is doing what comes natural to him. But to answer your question, I would approach your son and tell him you see great attributes of a leader in him. Explain what it means. Educate him on what a great leader looks like. Give him examples of people in your life that led you without manipulating you. After you finish your motivational talk, ask him if he can describe a time where he has abused his leadership by being manipulative. If he replies no, give him a few examples to jog his memory. Walk him through the correct way to handle his siblings without taking advantage of them. You can even give him the quote from Uncle Ben in the movie, Spider Man. Ben said, “With great power, comes great responsibility.” Your son may even think you’re cool for knowing that quote.